It’s Christmas time again, and we know you are anxious for news from the House of Hjalmerson!
The year started with a bang…literally. Torvald has always dreamed of having backyard fireworks for New Year’s Eve, and since his job search bogged down during last year’s holiday season, he had the time necessary to realize his dream. After tinkering with some recipes he found on the Interweb and a few false starts, he and what was left of his eyebrows were ready for the big show. We gathered the kids and several neighbors, but the backyard was snowier (and darker) than dear old Dad expected, so by the time he was ready for blast-off, it was well past midnight and most of the audience had wandered off. Which turned out to be a blessing, as the first shot landed in the wheelbarrow where the rest of the fireworks were waiting. The snow put out most of the small fires, so no real harm was done. And, as Torvald sunnily pointed out, we were planning on trading in the Dodge anyway.
The kids continue to grow, at least physically. Astrid (our eldest) returned home after graduating from trade school. Things being what they are in the pipe fitting industry, her job search continues. She is saving money by bunking in at the old homestead, and is getting some much-loved “Dad ‘n Daughter” time as they carpool to the Unemployment Office.
Knut found his niche this year in the world of science. We’ve never seen him more focused, even though we rarely see him at all, as he is always busy down in his basement “Mess Lab”, as he calls it. Messy it certainly is, but if it makes him happy, we’re happy. Though the fumes have left all of us with a persistent cough, and may have contributed to the untimely death of Mittens, our beloved cat. Financially, it has been a huge success for Knut. Not only was he able to buy his first car ( a Cadillac!), he also replaced our old Dodge with an almost-new Chrysler Town and Country (he assures us it’s the Cadillac of Minivans), which we get to use whenever he isn’t making deliveries. No paper route for our 16-year-old!
Can you believe it? Our youngest, Princess Britt, turned 14 this year! Of course, she’s at that age where she’s no longer very interested in family activities, or even speaking to us. But it’s the way of the world, isn’t it? She’s always busy with various activities, and although we’re not clear on the specifics, she seems to have lots of friends who call and text at all hours. In fact, darling Britt is so popular that she needs 2 cell phones: one for friends (“they’re ALL BFFs, mom!”) and one just for “Johns”, which seems to be a very popular name at her school, judging by the constant ringing on that line. Britt is spending less and less time around the house, but that’s to be expected from today’s tween, right? They grow up so very quickly.
By the way, permit us a bit of bragging. Our two girls are ardent supporters of the troops, and have become volunteers at the VFW, American Legion Hall and the Veteran’s Center. The grateful soldiers and vets have so very little, yet they always have some one-dollar bills to show their appreciate for our girls’ efforts.
After the fireworks adventure, Torvald redoubled his efforts, and assures us that this year’s show will be one for the ages. Between that and repairing the damage to the back of the house, his job hunt has not been as focused as he might like. But we remain optimistic that an employee looking for his special blend of creativity and charisma will appear soon.
Meanwhile, Ingrid continues to be the main breadwinner and chief bottle washer around La Casa Hjalmerson. She is still assistant bookkeeper for Creosote Concepts, which enjoyed its third best year ever. The blessing of having three such self-actualized youngsters is that Mom duties don’t take as much time as they used to, so Ingrid was able take on a second job on nights and weekends. Working at the Everything a Buck Store has been a boon, with its employee discount and first crack at new arrivals. All of this year’s Christmas presents came courtesy of the new job, so we took the guesswork out of Christmas shopping..for once!
As we prepare to gather together for the special time, we reflect and give thanks for our many blessings. Uncle Ole was finally out from under the restraining order, and his new wife Hanh Phuc appears to be the love of his life. Her ESL classes are going well, and she has no problem with many common phrases, such as “Get away from me” and “Shut up.”
Torvald’s parents are still going strong, though we had to make special arrangements to get a day pass for them to join us for Christmas.
And Tinkles, our family dog, has persevered through a variety of mysterious ailments. He is a trooper, and never lets his medical problems keep him from being the center of attention. And anyway, we needed a new carpet.
Here’s hoping that your year was as wondrous and eventful as ours. We are truly blessed, and despite the rashes, UTI’s, chlamydia, and “cold sores”, we are once again grateful for friends and family.
Darla, Knut, Brit, Tinkles, Torvald & Ingrid
Today’s Fact Cetera
Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system.